The Union of Cupid and Psyche, Part 2/4, the Banishment and the Villa

In part 1, we met our cast of characters. Now, it’s time to let them play out their parts:

So, imagine this: you are the most beautiful princess in the world. Your beauty rivals that of the Goddess of Beauty, Aphrodite.

This has two unfortunate side effects:

First, it has drawn the ire of the Goddess herself.

Second, it means that unlike your two older sisters, no suitors pursue you; they believe themselves unworthy of your affections.

Your father, the King, is troubled that he can’t find you a suitable husband. He wonders if the Gods are offended.

And so, he does the most logical thing he can think of: he goes to consult the Oracle of Delphi.

The Sybil has grave news:

“Your daughter is destined to marry a terrible beast, one that even the Gods fear. Take her to a rocky outcropping, high over the seas, and leave her there to the fates.”

Saddened, he complies.

Dressing you in funerary clothes, he leads you up a mountain, and abandons you there, all alone.

Your name is Psyche, and your story is just beginning.


Psyche, by Bertel Thorvaldsen

While it seems absurd to us that any loving father would do this his child, he apparently believed this was the right course of action.

And it very well might have been, except for one little snag:

Jealous Aphrodite was taking matters into her own hands.

She ordered her son Cupid to use one of his arrows to make Psyche fall in love with something monstrous, which would have fulfilled the prophecy.

And that’s where things got complicated…


When Cupid saw Psyche, he was smitten at first sight.

And so, instead of obeying his mother, he followed his own instincts, and just to seal the deal…

He pricked himself with the arrow intended for Psyche. And as he gazed on her, he fell into a rapturous state of love.


Of course, Psyche had no idea about any of this. She was banished, all alone, and apparently doomed to marry a monster.

In her despair, she decided to end it all.

She prepared herself to die, smashing her body on the rocks below.

After steeling herself, she jumped.


But Cupid was watching.

He asked Zephyr, Spirit of the West Winds, to lift her up.

Zephyr complied and deposited her in the beautiful grove that surrounded Cupid’s palatial Villa.

Psyche slept as she was spirited away.


When Psyche woke up, she was startled to find that she was still alive, and in a place of such transcendent beauty.

She moved slowly towards the Villa, which was as beautiful as the grove.

And while there was no one inside, the building itself was magically alive.

Think Beauty and the Beast; a number of folklorists have.

The banquet feasts arranged themselves; the lyres played themselves.

And from nowhere, a soothing voice told her:

“Make yourself at home.”


The Abduction of Psyche by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

Time passed, and while Psyche was very much at peace, she was still curious as to who her host was.

Finally, the time came when the voice spoke to her again.

“Come to my bedroom, but do not gaze on me. That is the one condition.”

Still a virgin, but curious none the less, she followed the voice into a completely darkened chamber…

And climbed into bed…

Where she gave into her host’s gentle caresses.

This happened night after night, and every night she found herself giving in more and more to the mysterious stranger.

Eventually, the sacred union was consummated; Psyche, however still had no idea who her lover was.

The one thing she did know, soon enough, was that she was carrying his child…


Part 3, The Union of Cupid and Psyche: The Trials of Psyche

Cupid and Psyche, Károly Brocky (1850-1855)

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